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Police Acquittal Decried

April 19, 2006|From the Associated Press

MILWAUKEE — Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Milwaukee chanting "No justice, no peace" Tuesday after three white former police officers were acquitted in a mixed-race man's beating.

Organizers called on the U.S. attorney's office to file federal civil rights charges in the beating of Frank Jude Jr.

"We're here today for our future. Our children should not have to look into the future and see that this is what happens at the hands of the Milwaukee Police Department," said Brian Verdin, a spokesman for the group, which calls itself Justice for Jude, Justice for All. He held a photo of Jude's swollen, bloody face.

Prosecutors had accused the officers of beating Jude, 27, in October 2004 because they thought he had stolen a badge at a party. Defense lawyers argued that the key prosecution witnesses were unreliable.

On Friday, an all-white jury returned not-guilty verdicts on all but one charge against Jon Bartlett, 34; Daniel Masarik, 26; and Andrew Spengler, 26. On one charge, against Bartlett, the jury reached no verdict, and prosecutors were considering retrying him.

U.S. Atty. Steven Biskupic said it could take months for his office to determine whether anyone involved in the beating broke federal civil rights or obstruction of justice laws.

Police estimated that as many as 2,000 people marched from the Milwaukee County Courthouse to the federal courthouse.

Some downtown streets were closed for the march. People leading the crowd held a sign that read, "Question: What is left when honor is lost? The Milwaukee Police Dept."

City Alderman Michael McGee Jr. told the crowd it was fighting a spiritual war and led a chant, shouting, "Where are we going to take it?" The crowd answered, "The streets!"

Carey Jenkins, of a group called Campaign Against Violence, said he hoped the march would make politicians and others aware of injustices in the criminal justice system.

"If they don't show justice is served, we'll get them out of office," he told a reporter. "People are sick and tired of the injustice in Milwaukee."

Milwaukee is 37% black and has some of the nation's most segregated neighborhoods.

Bartlett and Masarik were acquitted of second-degree recklessly endangering safety, and Masarik and Spengler were acquitted of substantial battery.

The jury reached no verdict on a substantial battery charge against Bartlett. Bartlett also faces trial in July on felony bomb scare and bail-jumping charges. Police Chief Nan Hegerty fired nine off-duty officers in connection with the beating. Three on-duty officers were suspended and one was demoted. Two of the fired officers won back their jobs.

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